The Little Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo - Read Online
The Little Book of Awakening
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The Book of Awakening has become a modern classic, a spiritual guide for living in hard times and good times that speaks to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, this spiritual favorite, chosen as one of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite things, is available in a special pocket-sized jacketed hardcover edition, perfect for the gift-giving season. 

The Little Book of Awakening
 takes some of the very best wisdom from The Book of Awakening and distills it into a set of weekly readings. Each week explores a theme, such as abundance, awareness, blessing, interdependence, presence, opportunity, being heard, being real, and facing our suffering. Nepo writes about spirit and friendship, urging readers to stay vital and in love with life, no matter the hardships. Encompassing many traditions and voices, his words offer insight on pain, wonder, and love.

The Little Book of Awakening
 is the ideal inspirational gift for any occasion.   
Published: Red Wheel Weiser on
ISBN: 9781609259310
List price: $14.95
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The Little Book of Awakening - Mark Nepo

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These weekly selections are taken from my spiritual daybook, The Book of Awakening, which was first published in 2000. Like any author, I've been changed by what has come through me, and this book continues to be my teacher. I first explored and gathered these pages freshly on the other side of cancer, when I was gentle and raw and eager to give something back. Since that time, the book has had a remarkable journey. It's been translated into more than twenty languages and is now in its 31st printing. It's all very humbling.

I must say that surviving cancer taught me that we're not here just to pay the bills and cross off tasks on our never-ending lists. In the midst of all the effort it takes to survive, we each need the gift of wakefulness in order to thrive. In truth, what matters—what keeps us alive and close to joy—is always nearby, hidden in the folds of whatever trouble or detour we trip on. With this in mind, this edition is intended to be small enough to carry with you, an in-hand companion. It is my hope that you'll find something here to calm, comfort, challenge, and stretch you, and most of all to introduce you to yourself.



Burning the Wrapper

From the beginning,

The key to renewal has been shedding,

The casting off of old skin.

The Polynesians say the world began when Taaora—their name for the Creator—woke to find himself growing inside a shell. He stretched and broke the shell, and the Earth was created. Taaora kept growing, though, and after a time found himself inside another shell. Again, he stretched and broke the shell, and this time the moon was created. Again, Taaora kept growing, and again, he found himself contained by yet another shell. This time the breaking forth created the stars.

In this ancient story, the Polynesians have carried for us the wisdom that we each grow in this life by breaking successive shells, that the piece of God within each of us stretches until there's no room to be, and then the world as we know it must be broken so that we can be born anew.

In this way, life becomes a living of who we are until that form of self can no longer hold us, and, like Taaora in his shell, we must break the forms that contain us in order to birth our way into the next self. This is how we shed our many ways of seeing the world, not that any are false, but that each serves its purpose for a time until we grow and they no longer serve us.

I have lived through many selves. The first of me, so eager to be great, to set things ablaze, shunned everything that was ordinary. I hunted the burn of a champion's hip and wanted to be a great musician too—to be famous and extraordinary. But as I grew, the notion of fame left me lonely in the night. Thrones, no matter how pretty, have only room for one.

The second of me wanted to be covered by waves, inhale the stars, and move like a song. Now I wanted to be the great music itself. But to be the great thing was still as lonely as it was magnificent.

The third of me gave up on greatness. It was how I let others draw close. I asked more questions, not really interested in answers, but more, the face below the face about to speak.

And then during cancer, there came yet another self—there, bent and distorted in the hospital chrome as the late sun flooded my pillow. I was dead in the chrome, alive on the pillow, a quiet breath between—dead, alive—at once. And oddly, it did not scare, for I felt the pulse of life in the quiet breath, and the place to which I transcended is here.

Almost dying was another shell I had to break. It has led me to realize that each self unfolds, just one concentric womb en route to another, each encompassing the last. I would believe in arrival but for all the arrivals I've broken on the way.

Breathe slowly with your eyes closed, and feel one aspect of your current world that seems confining.

Rather than focusing on the people or circumstance involved, try to feel this confinement as the threshold of your next growth.

Meditate on how the piece of God within you might stretch and stand more fully, so that being who you are more completely will break the shell of this confinement.

Pray to understand that none of this is bad, but simply necessary for the growth of your soul.


The Art of Facing Things

What people have forgotten is what every salmon knows.


Salmon have much to teach us about the art of facing things. In swimming up waterfalls, these remarkable creatures seem to defy gravity. It is an amazing thing to behold. A closer look reveals a wisdom for all beings who want to thrive.

What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside—from center to tail—into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely, and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall. Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey.

From a distance, it seems magical, as if these mighty fish are flying, conquering their element. In actuality, they are deeply at one with their element, vibrantly and thoroughly engaged in a compelling dance of turning-toward-and-being-hit-squarely that moves them through water and air to the very source of their nature.

In terms useful to the life of the spirit, the salmon are constantly faithful in exposing their underside to the current coming at them. Mysteriously, it is the physics of this courage that enables them to move through life as they know it so directly. We can learn from this